View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

Lucy Meadows case coroner given ‘informal advice’ after inquest attack on journalists

By Gabriel Samuels

The coroner who presided over the Lucy Meadows suicide inquest was spoken to by the highest-ranking UK coroner following an outspoken attack on journalists.

The Judicial Office confirmed that the Chief Coroner, Judge Peter Thornton QC, gave "informal advice" to Michael Singleton after he made the comments.

Transgender teacher Meadows committed suicide in March, four months after reports of her sex-change had appeared in the press.

Evidence heard at the inquest pointed to issues other than media coverage as being motives in Meadows’ decision to take her own life. A suicide note, read aloud at the hearing, made no mention of the press.

At the inquest in May, Singleton said he was “appalled” at the media coverage of Meadows' sex-change, condemning “sensational and salacious” press reports.

He then adressed the journalists covering the hearing on the press benches, saying to them: “And to you the Press, I say shame. Shame on all of you”.

The coroner singled out a Daily Mail column by Richard Littlejohn published in December, branding it a “character assassination”.

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

The Office for Judicial Complaints said a formal complaint against Singleton had been dismissed because the Chief Coroner "had already dealt with the matter". 

Singleton also said that he had carried out his own private research into the case.

In May, Singleton wrote a Section 43 letter to Culture Secretary Maria Miller citing “ill-informed bigotry” in the press and suggesting changes to press regulation.

According to the Daily Mail, the "informal advice" covered the letter and Singleton's private research.

Singleton’s comments led to angry calls for Richard Littlejohn to be sacked in May. Press Gazette later revealed how Meadows sought advice from Trans Media Watch about how to deal with the press intrusion following Littlejohn's article, before taking her own life.

Freelance journalist Gavin Drake, who wrote an open letter to the Lord Chancellor demanding that Singleton be rebuked, said “the coroner’s behaviour was appalling” before criticising him for “resorting to sensationalism” with his comments.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network